The trial of Malaysia’s political cartoonist Zunar (Zulkiflee SM Anwar Ulhaque) on sedition charges, originally scheduled for July, has been postponed until the court rules on the constitutionality of the law the cartoonist was charged under. Zunar’s nine sedition charges over tweets he made following a politically charged trial carry a possible 43-year prison term. The possibility of a jail sentence has not side-lined Zunar, who in an interview with the South China Morning Post said: “The job of political cartoonists everywhere in the world is to criticise the government of the day. But in Malaysia, that is not enough. When you live in a repressive regime, you not only criticise, you have to fight. My job is to fight through cartoons.”
An Open letter to:
The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei;
President Hassan Rouhani;
Head of Judiciary Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani
Cc: Mr. Gholamali Khoshroo, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the UN; Mr. Hamid Babaei, Third Counsellor, Press Office, Islamic Republic of Iran UN Mission
We understand Iranian artist Atena Farghadani has been sentenced to 12 years 9 months in prison, her appeal to take place within twenty days, and with regard to that appeal would hope you take the following into consideration.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is a party to various Articles within UN International Human Rights Conventions; including Article 19 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ”The right to freedom of opinion and expression,” and Articles 19, 21 and 22 of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights mandating “The right to express an opinion and freedom of expression” and “The right to freedom of association.”
We are particularly concerned that that right to freedom of opinion and expression through the drawing of a cartoon should be attacked by the Iranian authorities, especially since — as noted by Atena Farghadani’s lawyer — “activities on social networks on the Internet [in Iran] are not recognized as crimes.” In addition to that, President Rouhani himself has pledged “support for the Freedom of Speech in Iran’s newspapers, magazines and websites,” with the Minister of Culture reiterating such encouragement. Foreign Minister Zarif also noted during a TV interview that: “We do not jail people for their opinions.”
Many Human Rights organizations and the UN believe that arresting, charging and sentencing Atena Farghadani for such activities contravenes the above-mentioned rights, and it is of concern to the international community as it moves into a new era of international co-operation with Iran.
The United Nations, and World Human Rights organizations, consider Atena Farghadani to be a prisoner of conscience, presently held for the peaceful exercise of her rights to freedom of expression and association. Being a party to the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, we would hope you could see that too.
Since news of Atena Farghadani’s sentence has been announced, and circulated internationally, many people and organizations are expressing concern that it does not correspond with the direction Iran stated it was taking with regard to Human Rights — and cannot understand how such could continue, in particular with relation to the international co-operation now developing between Iran and other nations, which, as with Iran, would be rightly challenged when injustices occur within their own legal systems.
To inform the world that Iran, as with fellow co-signatories, is complying with the Articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, it would be hoped that you would reconsider the sentence on appeal, and that the conviction and sentence would be quashed. The world looks on — hoping Iran will, in good faith, free Atena Farghadani in this era of international co-operation — and in so doing prove that Iran is indeed a supporter of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, along with other internationally accepted human rights, a vital condition and component within this new era of international co-operation that we are hopefully heading towards.
With best regards,
Dr. Robert Russell
Cartoonists Rights Network International
Iranian artist-activist Atena Farghadani has been handed a 12 year prison sentence by Tehran’s Revolutionary Court for posting a cartoon in protest of legislation to restrict birth-control and make divorce more difficult in her country. The illustration, in which Iran’s parliamentarians were depicted with animal heads, was posted on Farghadani’s Facebook page. After spending nine months in prison awaiting trial, during which time she reportedly suffered a heart attack while on a hunger strike, Farghadani has been found guilty of “insulting members of parliament through paintings” and “insulting the Iranian supreme leader.” The 28-year-old painter had also been charged with “gathering and colluding with anti-revolutionary individuals and deviant sects” for contact she had with families of political prisoners and followers of the Baha’i faith during a painting exhibition. In 2014, Farghadani posted a YouTube video documenting police abuse during a previous incarceration. [Full Story]
Malaysian political cartoonist Zunar has been charged in Kuala Lumpur with nine counts of sedition for tweets posted following a controversial court ruling. Zunar could be sentenced to 43 years in prison if convicted.
Zunar (Zulkifi Anwar Ulhaque) is known for cartoons lampooning the excesses and questionable practices of the government of Prime Minister Najib Razak. Over the years, his cartoon books have been periodically confiscated, bookstores banned from selling his work, and his webmaster ordered to provide a list of those buying his books online.
“They are really trying to shut me off from criticizing the government, so I think it’s clearly politically motivated,” Zunar said of the latest charges. [Full Story]
Open letter from the cartoonist Zunar (Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque)
I will be charged under The Sedition Act on Friday, 3 April, 2015. My lawyer had just informed me that the police had served a notice to charge me to court under The Sedition Act over my tweet posting dated 10th of February 2015 on Anwar Ibrahim ruling.
The charge carries the maximum penalty of three years in jail, a RM5,000 fine [$1,365 US], or both. Previously I was arrested and detained for three days for the same case. During the detention, the police also opened up separate investigation on my cartoon books, Pirate of Carry BN and Conspiracy to Imprison Anwar. I am sure this prosecution is about “vendetta against cartoons.”
The use of Sedition Act came as no surprise for me as in a corrupt regime, the truth is seditious.
I would like to reiterate that the use of Sedition Act will not silence me. I will keep exposing the corruptions and wrong-doings of the BN government. The “Fight Through cartoons” will carry on with more fire.
I will keep drawing until the last drop of my ink. — Zunar [Complete letter and Story]
Cartoonists Bahadir Baruter and Ozer Aydogan, from the Turkish satirical magazine Penguen, have been found guilty of insulting Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a cartoon on the cover of the magazine’s August issue. The court sentenced both cartoonists to 14 months in prison on March 24. That sentence was reduced to 11 months and 20 days, for “good conduct” during the trial, and subsequently commuted to a fine of 7,000 Liras each. The cartoon in question depicted the president meeting two officials outside his newly completed presidential palace, with the cartoon Erdogan saying: “What a bland celebration. We could have at least sacrificed a journalist.” The cartoonists explained in court that the cartoon was making a comment on the victimization of journalists. [Full Story]